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Discussion Starter #1
Not sure if this is very good or not. I don't feel very successful.

I published my first novel in August of 2011. The second came out in December of 2011. The third in May 2012. From August of 2011 until March 1st, the two books were $2.99, except for 1 week where I had the first on a .99 promo. After that, all novels have been $4.99.

For the first twelve months I sold a total (combining all 3 books) of 573

My fourth came out in November 2012 (same price). Adding in the next fouth months to include all 16 months I have been publishing I have sold 690 books.

Do most people sell more than this during this amount of time? Of course, I realize genre has something to do with it, too. These books are drama/historical fiction (and sometimes I move from drama to family saga). None of these genres sell like romance, erotica, thriller and paranormal stuff does. At least not so far. I am hoping that over time people will thrist again for a dramatic series that follows the fortune and misfortunes of a family; all of their struggles and successes.
 

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Congrats Caddy, I think that's a respectable total, especially with the higher prices.  :)
 

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Hi Caddy,

assuming that your family and friends who would buy your books out of interest do not number > 100, this means that your books are bought by "strangers". I actually consider any book sold to an unknown person a success. I read once that in print, 10,000 copies sold already make you a bestseller (well, in Germany at least). So you're not doing bad, I would say.
Best regards,

Yves
 

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I think you're doing great. Sometimes as we watch the success stories here on KB, we forget we are looking at a demographic that includes some of the very best.

In my writing groups, sales are generally about 20 copies of a book per month. I think going above that means you are starting to beat the curve. Keeping books in the five figures of ranking is also above the curve. (Right now it's harder as the top sellers are really selling well, and currently 100,000 ranking is about the same sales as 45,000 was in October. It'll level out again, I'm guessing, although maybe not all the way back to where it was since there are so many new titles and so many new Kindles.)
 

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In my first sixteen months I released five books (one novel, three novellas, and a short story) and sold... forty-seven copies, total, I believe. (YA adventure novel; historical adventure / historical comedy of errors / quasi-erotic rom-com novellas; adventure short story.)

And twenty of those were through a promo at... ENT? Whatever the place is/was that has/had the big lengthy spreadsheets showing how well/poorly their featured books did.

So I'd say you're doing mighty well. :)

 

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Only you can decide if you are successful or not.  There isn't some standard definition somewhere that says if you are successful or not as an indi-author.  Personally, I like to list achievements.
Wrote a book, yes.
Sold books to strangers, yes.
Book is in print, yes.
Book signing at Barnes and Noble, yes.
Wrote a second book, yes.
Sold books to the international market, yes.
Received 5 star reviews, yes.
Received fan mail, yes.
Sold over 100 books, yes.
Sold over 500 books, yes.
Sold over 1000 books, yes.
Wrote a third book, yes.
Completed a trilogy, yes.
Top 100 in my sub genera on Amazon, yes.
Top 50, yes.
Top 10, yes.
Top 1, yes.
Been approached by strangers in public, yes.
Made more money than I have spent?, 2011 no, 2012 yes, 2013?

However I can also list a bunch of things I'm not boasting.
Make minimum wage on hours spent writing and marketing, no.
Rich and famous, no.
Sold 10,000 books, no.
10,000 free downloads, no.
Uploaded the wrong unedited file to amazon and didn't figure it out for 12 months, yes.
Lost my brown bar of shame to a return, yes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, I think it is true that each person has some success and some failure. I had hoped to sell 1,000 my first year and that didn't happen so I have been feeling very disappointed. 

Yet, I get great "fanmail" and people connect with me on social media to say they loved the books.  Success. And you are right, I don't have 100 friends that would buy my book.  I have to say that everytime I see a new sale I get that excited lurch in my stomach because that means another total stranger thought enough of my cover/description, etc to try it. And why it is in another country? Even more exciting.  :)
 

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Personally I stick with Dean Wesley's view that in all probability (say 90% of the cases for newbies), you won't make a liveable income in your first year, even with FIVE novels. I will have ten at the end of 2013, and I'm not expecting to make as much as I really need to support myself on writing alone on those ten novels. So, I up the production and work on not only those, but novellas and shorts for my other pen names.

At least, that is what is working for me.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=5257
 

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Caddy said:
I have to say that everytime I see a new sale I get that excited lurch in my stomach because that means another total stranger thought enough of my cover/description, etc to try it.
Listen to your stomach ;) That's the sound of success.

As to number of sales, I think that's a respectable number at that price point, especially considering the fact that you've only reduced it once for a promo.
 

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You're disappointed you didn't make 1,000 sales, but what did you base that number on?  You picked it out of thin air, right?  It could have been 20 or 50,000 or really anything.  And if it had been 20 or 200, you'd think you did great.  But because you picked a mythical number and then didn't hit it, you're kicking yourself.

Sounds a bit silly doesn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sounds a bit silly doesn't it?
:D Yes! Thanks for pointing out the obivous to me. It seemed reasonable but was not based on anything except whta I decided was reasonable without any knowledge.
 

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You can't compare yourself to others.
Look what you have accomplished. Several amazing books with a dedicated fan base. Books that are selling for real prices, not bottom of the barrel. Those alone are huge achievements.

Keep on doing what you're doing. :) Here's to a great 2013!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you, everyone, for the encouragement.  It really helps.
 

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My early blog posts are great for me to read when I'm feeling down. It reminds me that I came into this with the attitude of "I'm the intern getting coffee." My goal was 5 years in to be making a thousand or more per month across all titles. Yes/no am I closer to that goal. No more fiction written and I'm 1.5 years in from publishing Cancelled, but on the other hand, for the last 8 months I've made a decent pay doing web work and author ads. Sooooooo, at this moment in time, I'm at a crossroads. On one hand, the web work is well paying, but it's time consuming, leaving me very little energy to write or pursue other things. On the other hand, my book just had another meteoric rise on the Freebie list, and my background in marketing, I know I have a knack for highlighting what makes my story unique etc. Reader have a strong reaction, one way or the other to the book. And thankfully, it's not "this writer's writing sucks" but just that they didn't agree with the plot line.

I think the very teen-innie percetange of indie authors who "make it big" bring on ridiculous expectations. We are all starting brand new businesses, just to be profitable in a year is an incredible feat. And since so much of this world is subjective, I think where it counts, your discipline Caddy and follow through, are a distinguished sign of success.
 

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I think you should consider it all a success and keep going!  I like the way SBJones tallied things up.

Keep in mind: your total books sold numbers are just going to keep going up - maybe slow & steady or maybe in a burst - but people are reading your books and more people will discover them  :)
 

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TexasGirl said:
I think you're doing great. Sometimes as we watch the success stories here on KB, we forget we are looking at a demographic that includes some of the very best.

In my writing groups, sales are generally about 20 copies of a book per month. I think going above that means you are starting to beat the curve.
This is a great point. It's so easy to lose sight of the 'norm' when it seems like everyone is a bestseller. I'm thrilled for the sp authors who have achieved great success. I think it shows the rest of us that anything is possible, but it's important not to judge your own sales based on what others are doing. We all have a different path to navigate. All the best in 2013! :)
 

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I like your sales story.

Quite often on these boards, threads tend to be dominated by people who exude an air of 'why aren't you all selling 10,000 copies a month, because I am and it was easy. I just uploaded my books and people started buying'.

For the vast majority of us, things aren't like that at all, and those people are too ashamed to come out with their sales figures, but there is nothing to be ashamed of.

I published my first ebook about 2 years ago. It was a short story that had already been published, and after I put it on Amazon, I didn't look at the sales figures for many months. I published it to make it more widely available and I didn't expect to sell any great numbers. I published a kid's novel a few months later, again just with the idea of having the book off my hard drive and out there for people to read, with the option of giving copies via Smashwords. This book has done OK, despite the fact that kids books don't sell well.

I was in Select with a few books, and the (very) short-lived spikes were fun, but did I say they were short-lived? Science Fiction and Fantasy are reasonably popular genres, but as I learn, I've figured that they are not genres for bargain hunters. I cannot sell anything for 99c. I can lower the price, but it has ZERO effect. My books are $4.99 or higher.

Things didn't really start moving until I completed the trilogy in April 2012 and it started selling on B&N and especially Kobo. My records are not good, but I would have passed the 1000 sold some time in December. Half these sales are from outside Amazon and Amazon is slipping into oblivion (So far this month, I've sold six times more books on Kobo than I have on Amazon. Seriously, what gives?). The vast majority of these sales are at $4.99
 

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My first publication was at the end of July. I sold 57 books through November. In December I sold 522 books excluding Smashwords (which was trivial anyways ~20ish maybe).

This month I'm off to what feels like a slow start compared to Christmas week, but I'm reminding myself that I've already sold 143 books and it's only the 6th.

I have 10 published titles, all erotic/erom short stories or novellas depending on how you classify them. (4k-16k words). Sales of my title "The Professor" accounted for 415 of my 522 sales in December and continues to be my highest selling title by far.

Currently working on the follow up to the Professor which will be my first "novel" length title (~50k words). Targeting to have it out around the last weekend of January.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
Quite often on these boards, threads tend to be dominated by people who exude an air of 'why aren't you all selling 10,000 copies a month, because I am and it was easy. I just uploaded my books and people started buying'.
I have to disagree with you here. Yes, there are a number of seller here that sell many multiples more than I do, but I find them to be helpful and not snarky at all. I know that you feel a need to denigrate Amazon in most of your posts, and that's fine, but slightly tarring all the KB bestsellers with this brush is unfair and unwarranted, in my opinion.
 

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Shawn Inmon said:
I have to disagree with you here. Yes, there are a number of seller here that sell many multiples more than I do, but I find them to be helpful and not snarky at all. I know that you feel a need to denigrate Amazon in most of your posts, and that's fine, but slightly tarring all the KB bestsellers with this brush is unfair and unwarranted, in my opinion.
I'm not saying they're not helpful, because they are, but a lot of people, including myself, are intimidated by those sales figures. Have you noticed that in the sales threads, as soon as a couple big sellers start reporting, all the smallfry shut up? That's just human nature because we're embarrassed. There are many, many more people with modest sales than big sellers on these boards.

I think that skews the view of really new n00bs that we're all selling that much and it's simply not true. Caddy's sales are much more realistic of what you can expect as a new self-published author.

A lot of us are happy enough with the opportunity to sell for a bit of pocket money.
 
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